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Productive things to do while commuting to work

For many, working from home has been a real challenge, with no amount of video calls making up for the warm welcome of colleagues as you step through the office door. Even just returning to work for a couple of days per week could help improve your wellbeing and productivity.

And don’t forget those treasured moments all to yourself as you make your way to and from work. With the average UK commuter travelling up to one hour per day, there’s plenty of opportunity to make the most of your ‘me time’.

To find out how best to unwind during your daily commute, including great ideas for new skills to learn, the best books to read on the train, podcasts to listen to, games to play on your phone, and general productive things to do while commuting to work, check out our mind-expanding (and mind-relaxing) guide below.

A commuter rewards platform is available, offering free hot drinks, mindfulness, course upgrades, music streaming, audio books and much more. Make the most of your trip with the ultimate commuter experience!

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Poster for the DfT's 'Let's get back on track' campaign


1. Safe For Work

If you’re looking for advice from top professionals on how to manage a healthy and balanced career, then check this out. It’s a podcast that explores some of the more challenging aspects of office life, including how to negotiate a raise and how to cope with an annoying colleague.

Safe for Work imagery: Transform how you approach work with this game-changing podcast

2. Off Menu

It’s an award-winning podcast from comedians Ed Gamble and James Acaster. In each episode, they invite special guests, including Jamie Oliver, Meera Syal and Dan Aykroyd, to choose their favourite three courses and a drink. It’s funny, light-hearted and a great way to pass the time while en route to the office.

promotional image of James Acaster and Ed Gamble for their podcast 'Off Menu'


1. Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know

In his latest book, psychologist Adam Grant explores how we can better adapt to our rapidly changing world. Helping readers revaluate their opinions, instead of languishing in the comfort of old ideas and long-held beliefs.

Book cover for Adam Grant's Think Again

2. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain

Learn how literary masters craft the perfect short story with this book by George Saunders. Drawing on examples from Russian literature, including Leo Tolstoy, the American author and Booker-prize winner dissects seven short stories and reveals their inner workings.

Book cover for 'A swim in a pond in the rain' by George Saunders

3. Manifesto

Another Booker Prize winner, Bernardine Evaristo is a British author whose memoir is also an inspirational guide to never giving up and persevering against all odds. A trailblazing black author, Evaristo’s new book stands as a motivation for us all.

Book cover for Bernardine Evaristo's book 'Manifesto'


1. Lumosity

This encourages players to challenge their brain. The app has more than 50 games designed to sharpen your cognitive skills, with daily five-minute workouts based on neuroscience research. Put your memory, attention and speed to the test with this fun game.

2. Monument Valley

Great design and relaxed game-play makes this the perfect app for those looking for chilled-out things to do on the train when commuting to and from work. Players guide princess Ida through mysterious structures to uncover hidden paths. And with no stars to collect or leader boards to scale, players are encouraged to achieve nothing but pleasure.

3. The Room

This award-winning mobile game is a 3D puzzler that encourages players to use their ingenuity to operate nested boxes and reveal the secrets they contain. Atmospheric, suspenseful and a little spooky, this game is sure to keep you absorbed during your train journey.

Promotional image for 'The Room' : an escape-room inspired mobile app game

Meditation and mindfulness

1. Unwind Your Mind

Headspace, an organisation specialising in meditation, and creator of the popular meditation app, has three series now available on Netflix. The latest is this interactive show and is a great place to begin if you want to gently decompress after a long day at the office. Also check out the earlier series Headspace Guide to Meditation and Headspace Guide to Sleep – for a holistic approach to your mental wellbeing.

Headspace meditation app character against purple and blue background

2. Portal: Escape into Nature

The mindfulness app takes you far from your present location and deep into the wilderness. Visit the Scottish Highlands and the Slovenian alps; listen to the ocean and enjoy the gentle patter of rain on leaves – Portal bring the outdoors to you.

bed with mountain in background: promotional image for Portal: Esape into Nature mindfulness app

3. Calm

An app that combines mindfulness, meditation, scenic views, music and more to help you better cope with the stresses of everyday life. With breathing exercises, masterclasses, and mindful movement and stretching, Calm is a one-stop-shop for those looking to seriously unwind.

 The mobile app Calm includes mindfulness, meditation and more

Get on top of work

1. To Do

A useful app from Microsoft, perfect for planning your days and weeks ahead. A smart daily planner, To Do offers personalised suggestions to update your schedule, as well as being a great place to note down shopping lists and recommended films, available on mobile and desktop.

2. Trello

A free, easy and visual way to manage your projects, it’s an app that helps you keep on top of scheduled tasks. It’s fun and intuitive, and can be used for party planning just as much as it can for your important projects at work.

And of course, GWR has made it as easy as possible for you to get on with work while on the move. Tables, power points and free Wi-Fi are available across the network. To access Wi-Fi, just search for ‘GWR WiFi’, select ‘connect’ and follow the instructions to activate.

snapshot of Trello the project management tool

One less thing to think about

Passengers can look forward to more streamlined travel when they purchase a season ticket. An annual season ticket allows you to travel for 52 weeks for the price of just 40 weekly tickets! You could save hundreds of pounds buying a train season ticket and avoid the daily ticket office queues, freeing up more of your time to do the things you love.

The new Flexi Season tickets are a great way for those travelling on the same route just a couple of days per week, ideal for new working habits.